My quirk

I have always been a little too obsessed with license plates. When you’re a kid in the backseat of a car (and too well-behaved to get in fights with your younger brother, naturally) you get bored, and my solution appears to have been looking at license plates. The Minnesota standard of three letters and three numbers lends itself to some interesting combinations. 666 is always a favorite. Numerical order is like playing a lame hand of poker (345). 420 when I got a little older. But numbers aren’t as exciting as letters.

My all-time favorite, which is in a Facebook album somewhere, is “GRR” which is one of my must-add words when I get a new phone for T9 purposes. The other week, I saw “APW” which is my brother’s initials, took a pic, and sent it via cell phone (still looking for KJW…). I actually saw an “AAA” which was very eventful. And when you’re in elementary school learning new ways of moving your brain around, license letters were kind of fun. My mom’s minivan was “KZG” which my brother and I renamed “Ka-zing,” like a sound effect, for the car we called the “Red Rocket.”

For whatever reason though, vanity plates are kind of boring. They are usually inside jokes, or pretty lame. Today I saw “88 KEYS” which wasn’t too bad, but kind of makes me think they’re a bit pretentious about their skill set.

My time as a housing inspector made me concentrate on plates even more. We were authorized to placard (and eventually tow) cars that had expired tabs (3 months or longer — we’re not total jerks). [I should explain the rule: If your tabs are invalid, your car cannot be driven. You can’t have a car out in the open if it is inoperable. You can have it in a garage, sure, but not sitting in a driveway. Why? Because if you haven’t driven your car in three months, it can quickly spiral into a year, and then you have a dead car rotting in plain view of your neighbors and the community. Don’t like it? Call your councilmember.]

Anyways, I got to know the cycle that the MN DMV uses for their five colors of car tabs. While I was an inspector I was able to quickly determine, even while driving, cars that had old tabs. I could have been a cop.

There’s even more, of course. Different states have different styles, which are hard to keep track of. I’m finally acclimating to the new MN plates that have black font instead of blue. And then there are the “W” plates, that look like dealer plates, but I am pretty confident are “whiskey” plates for DUI offenders. So much variety!

Now you know just how much of a dork I am.



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